By Sean McCafferty aka 30ranfordfan

February 28th, 2011 was the latest instalment of the NHL’s annual trade deadline. By 3:00 PM EST 16 trades, involving 35 players and 12 draft picks, were made. With over 20 deals completed in the month leading up to the deadline, this edition was a little slower than normal (as most experts had predicted).

Most of the deals involved depth players and minor leaguers, many that we’re likely to never hear from again. A few notable players like Jason Arnott, Max Lapierre, and Chris Higgins were dealt, but the 2011 deadline will certainly be most remembered for its biggest deal: Dustin Penner to the Los Angeles Kings.

The Edmonton Oilers traded their 2009-10 leader in points (63) and goals (32) for a package of Draft Picks, and Prospects.

Penner Celebrates a Goal

Tied for the team lead in goals this season (21) and just a good game back in points (39, vs Ales Hemsky’s 42) it couldn’t have been an easy decision, and certainly makes the Oilers a weaker team for the balance of this season, and likely next.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.

The return for Penner was Los Angeles’ 2011 first round draft pick, a conditional 3rd round pick in 2012, and 2008 first round pick Colten Teubert, who the Kings selected 13th overall. (The condition on the 2012 pick has been reported that if the Kings win the Stanley Cup, the pick becomes a second round selection).

From the Kings point of view,  this one is a no brainer. They get a big left winger, that can score. Something they needed. They trade a bit of the future, but likely future they don’t really need; considering the relative youth of their current roster, and the depth of their minor league system. This can only improve their chances to win the club’s first ever Stanley Cup, both this year and next.

On paper, it looks like the Oilers have done a very good job at asset management. Penner was aquired with an infamous offer sheet in the summer of 2007. When the Ducks (coming off a Stanley Cup win, were pushed to the limit of the Salary Cap) failed to match the Oiler’s offer of $21.5 million over 5 years, the RFA became property of the Oilers in exchange for their First, Second, and Third round draft picks.

Looking at the deal from an asset point of view, the Oilers dealt picks from rounds 1, 2, and 3, and have picks in the 1st and 3rd, plus a former 1st in return. Not a bad job at all.

However, when you look at what they actually got, versus what they actually gave up, I’m not so sure.

In Penner the Oilers have moved a 6’4″ left winger, who can be counted on to score 30(ish) goals per season. The exact kind of player that every team goes looking for this time of year, and very few can get a hold of. He’s got size, and he can score.

They get back a defenseman who is just as big, and has a mean streak, but Colten Teubert hasn’t progressed nearly as quickly as his peers.

Other 2008 drafted blue liners include Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Alex Pietrangelo, Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers (all taken ahead of him) and Erik Karlsson, Luca Sbisa, Michael Del Zotto, and John Carlson (all taken after him).

Colten Teubert - Future Star, or 1st Round Bust?

This isn’t to say that Teubert won’t develop into a bonifide NHL player, but having been a healthy scratch with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs (on several occasions) this year, does make me wonder. In theory he’ll develop into a nice 2nd pairing defenceman; great at the physical and shut down type play, and able to chip in a few goals here and there.

The first round pick they got will likely end up in the 20-25 range. Currently sitting 5th in the West, the addition of Penner should prove big enough to make sure the Kings hold onto that spot, at minimum, and maybe even more up. A playoff run where they win at least one round should be considered (at this point) likely.

So what kind of player can the Oilers expect to get with a pick in that range? Their own most recent example is Jordan Eberle (22nd overall in 2008), but players of that calibre don’t usually get selected that late. Oilers fans should hope it’s not a player like 2007 first rounder, 21st overall, Riley Nash (who is yet to play an NHL game, and has already left the organization). What they should probably expect is something similar to 2005 first round pick, Andrew Cogliano, who was selected 25th overall. A decent player, a legit NHLer for sure. One who brings some decent skills to the table, but whose never been (and likely never will be) particularly spectacular.

When you consider 2nd and 3rd round picks are even bigger crap shoots than 1st rounders, let’s not bother debating what kind of player the 52nd overall pick may become.

So really what did the Oilers get? They picked up a player who may turn out to be a solid 2nd pairing defenseman, a pick that will hopefully turn out to be a useful role player, and another pick that’s unlikely to have much of an impact at the NHL level.

In Penner, they gave up one of their best players. One of their very few big players. A Stanley Cup winner, a veteran, and a leader in their young dressing room. The type of player they’ll be looking for in 3 years, when they’re supposed to be ready to contend.

Maybe Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini knew something that the rest of us don’t, and was dealing with the realization that Penner would have left as an unrestricted free agent after the 2011-12 season. One of the organization’s prized assets was only going to be worth less next year, before he got nothing at all. Maybe this was the best return he’d get from an asset that was only diminishing in value.

I just have a hard time letting a GM off the hook like that, especially when you see that the Toronto Maple Leafs got a near identical package for blueliner (and true ‘rental’ player) Thomas Kaberle.

Who won the trade? Truth is, only time will tell. We’ll have to see how the futures the Oilers have acquired pan out; but as the old saying goes……. “Whoever gets the best player, wins the trade”. I’ll be shocked if Penner isn’t the best player that comes from this deal.